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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old Jan 31st, 2012, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

Monday, 30 January 2012

To My Old Master






In August of 1865, a Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdan Anderson, and requested that he come back to work on his farm. Jourdan — who, since being emancipated, had moved to Ohio, found paid work, and was now supporting his family — responded spectacularly by way of the letter seen below (a letter which, according to newspapers at the time, he dictated).


Rather than quote the numerous highlights in this letter, I'll simply leave you to enjoy it. Do make sure you read to the end.


(Source: The Freedmen's Book; Image: A group of escaped slaves in Virginia in 1862, courtesy of the Library of Congress.)


Dayton, Ohio,


August 7, 1865


To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee


Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.


I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, "Them colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.


As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire. [AMEN! You tell 'im, Jourdon!]


In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.


Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.


From your old servant,


Jourdon Anderson.


Seems his former master didn't have much to "sell".

What strikes me is that it's rather hard to discern whether Jourdon is being sarcastic or truly bears his former master no ill will. My guess is that it's the latter, which is almost certainly a testament to the man's character. But it also occurs to me that there must be something tremendously mentally debilitating about having spent most, if not all, of your life as someone else's property, a kind of Stockholm Syndrome from which I would think it would be extremely difficult to recover.

What a blight and a blot that accursed institution brought upon this country! It seems we may never fully recover from its scars.

JESUS

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. Ps. 36:1

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Ps. 14:1, 53:1

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Prov. 1:7

...Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:28
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old Jan 31st, 2012, 10:17 PM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

What are you talking about? I thought that liberalism was bullshit, that guy should have been returned to his owner! USA! USA! USA!


Sorry I just find patriotic-to-death Americans so laughable

The belief that man is an irresolute creature pulled this way and that by two forces of equal strength, alternately winning and losing the battle for his soul; the conviction that human life is nothing more than an uncertain struggle between heaven and hell; the faith in two opposed entities, Satan and Christ - all this was bound to engender those internal discords in which the mind, excited by the incessant fighting, stimulated as it were by the constant promises and threats, ends up by giving in and prostitutes itself to whichever of the two combatants has been more obstinate in its pursuit. Life isn't black and white, it's gold.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old Jan 31st, 2012, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

Liberalism in its current incarnation IS . In its classical definition, I heartily subscribe!

JESUS

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. Ps. 36:1

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Ps. 14:1, 53:1

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Prov. 1:7

...Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:28
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old Jan 31st, 2012, 10:23 PM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustineTime View Post
Monday, 30 January 2012

To My Old Master





In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.
What terrible situation it must have been.
No freedom, no dignity and can't even protect your own kids from sexual predators who read the bible every night, go to church every Sunday, and send their kids to sunday school to be taught and right and wrong, but see nothing wrong with perpetuating sexual viloence on subjugated little girls.

[quote=JustineTime;20876026]Seems his former master didn't have much to "sell".
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustineTime View Post
What strikes me is that it's rather hard to discern whether Jourdon is being sarcastic or truly bears his former master no ill will. My guess is that it's the latter, which is almost certainly a testament to the man's character. But it also occurs to me that there must be something tremendously mentally debilitating about having spent most, if not all, of your life as someone else's property, a kind of Stockholm Syndrome from which I would think it would be extremely difficult to recover.
I think he is being sarcastic and saw this as a chance to show his former master that he is not as clueless as they all think he is.
I would like to see the master's reaction when he finds out that his former slaves knows that he is due unpaid labor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustineTime View Post
What a blight and a blot that accursed institution brought upon this country! It seems we may never fully recover from its scars.
Yet, there are people, many of them God fearing people who have convinced themselves this was not as bad as it is made out to be.
And merely raisng the issue reparation, which is, let's be honest about it, what Jourdan is raising; is seen as not loving the United States.

Jourdan knew he certainly can't get his dignity back, but he could tell the former master how he stripped it from him and his famility.

Last edited by tennislover22; Jan 31st, 2012 at 11:59 PM.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old Jan 31st, 2012, 10:38 PM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustineTime View Post
Liberalism in its current incarnation IS . In its classical definition, I heartily subscribe!
First' I'd like to commend you for posting this article.
This gave a window to the thought of many slaves and their ordeal in their master house.
In today's world, these people would be incarceraed not for not paying their slave for time worked, but for sexual organized crime upon their slave families.


Now about liberalism.
Conservatives now claim it is liberalism in its current form they don't like.
The truth is, conservatives have always been afraid of liberalism and it propensity to bring or husher in ( to use Sarah Palin favorite expression) new ideas, open people's eyes on what should be and not what is now.

Conservatives never like liberalim in the past, do not like it now, will not like it in the future.

When liberal ideas push for women to vote, conservatives said no.
When liberal ideas push for black be given the right to vote and not be discrimiated against, conservatives said no.
When liberal ideas push for for child labor to stop, conservatives said no.
When liberal ideas push for for women to join the workforce, conservatives said no.
When liberal ideas push for for women to get equal pay for equal work, conservatives said no.
When liberal ideas push for desegregation of workplace, public accomodation, schools, conservatives said no.


Lastly, as you might have noticted, when the USA (or any other western country) seeks for a partnter to talk to in an hostile country, they look for people with liberal ideas.
They never look for conservatives.

Last edited by tennislover22; Jan 31st, 2012 at 11:54 PM.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old Jan 31st, 2012, 11:35 PM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tennisbum79 View Post
First' I'd like to commend you for posting this article.
This gave a window to the thought of many slaves and their ordeal in their master house.
In today's world, these people would incarceraed not for not paying who have for them, but for sexual organized crime upon their slave families.


Now about liberalism.
Conservative now claim it is liberalism in its current form they don't like.
The truth is, conservative have always been afraid of liberalism and it propensity to bring to husher new ideas, open people's eyes on what should be and not what is now.

Conservative never like liberalims now in the past, does not like it now, will not like in the future.
When liberal ideas push for women to vote, conservatives said no.
When liberal ideas push for balck be given the right to vote and not be discrimiated, conservatives said no.
When liberal ideas push for for child labor to stop, conservatives said no.
When liberal ideas push for for women to join the workforce, conservatives said no.
When liberal ideas push for for women to get equal pay for equal work, conservatives said no.
When liberal ideas push for desegregate workplace, public accomodation, school, conservatives said no.


Lastly, as you might have noticted, when the USA (or any other western country) seek for a partnter to in an hostile country, they look for people with liberal ideas. They never look for conservatives.

The belief that man is an irresolute creature pulled this way and that by two forces of equal strength, alternately winning and losing the battle for his soul; the conviction that human life is nothing more than an uncertain struggle between heaven and hell; the faith in two opposed entities, Satan and Christ - all this was bound to engender those internal discords in which the mind, excited by the incessant fighting, stimulated as it were by the constant promises and threats, ends up by giving in and prostitutes itself to whichever of the two combatants has been more obstinate in its pursuit. Life isn't black and white, it's gold.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old Feb 1st, 2012, 01:17 AM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustineTime View Post
Monday, 30 January 2012

To My Old Master






In August of 1865, a Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdan Anderson, and requested that he come back to work on his farm. Jourdan — who, since being emancipated, had moved to Ohio, found paid work, and was now supporting his family — responded spectacularly by way of the letter seen below (a letter which, according to newspapers at the time, he dictated).


Rather than quote the numerous highlights in this letter, I'll simply leave you to enjoy it. Do make sure you read to the end.


(Source: The Freedmen's Book; Image: A group of escaped slaves in Virginia in 1862, courtesy of the Library of Congress.)


Dayton, Ohio,


August 7, 1865


To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee


Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.


I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, "Them colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.


As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire. [AMEN! You tell 'im, Jourdon!]


In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.


Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.


From your old servant,


Jourdon Anderson.


Seems his former master didn't have much to "sell".

What strikes me is that it's rather hard to discern whether Jourdon is being sarcastic or truly bears his former master no ill will. My guess is that it's the latter, which is almost certainly a testament to the man's character. But it also occurs to me that there must be something tremendously mentally debilitating about having spent most, if not all, of your life as someone else's property, a kind of Stockholm Syndrome from which I would think it would be extremely difficult to recover.

What a blight and a blot that accursed institution brought upon this country! It seems we may never fully recover from its scars.
I'll have to read this when I have more time but the picture breaks my heart.

Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.

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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old Feb 1st, 2012, 01:22 AM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

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I'll have to read this when I have more time but the picture breaks my heart.
It is a very heartbreaking letter.
Reading takes you back in the dynamic between slave family and and his master.
The master is totally oblivious to the pain he has inflicted to his slaves family and even contemplating the famility will comeback to his house if he asks.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old Feb 1st, 2012, 03:05 AM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

It was a very powerful letter.

I don't know if he was being sarcastic or not. It is possible either way. One of the plantations in Charleston has photos through present day, the descendants of the plantation owner still get together with the descendants of the head slave, picture of their children playing today, etc. It was a very strange world I'm not sure we can fully understand today. I assume from the photos, the family of the plantation owner are not sharing profits from the now-open to the public plantation with the head slave's family, so I don't think the reunions are financially motivated.

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old Feb 1st, 2012, 03:10 AM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

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It is a very heartbreaking letter.
Reading takes you back in the dynamic between slave family and and his master.
The master is totally oblivious to the pain he has inflicted to his slaves family and even contemplating the famility will comeback to his house if he asks.
It was a great letter and so glad Justinetime posted this so we won't have to read the "what about FAMU" post. I can only imagine how happy massa was to hear from Jourdan until he read how much he owed Jourdan in back wages. Po' Colonel, I can only imagine the cussing and goings on in that house when he read that letter.

Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.

Cory Booker
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old Feb 1st, 2012, 11:04 AM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

It's fascinating. I love reading letters from a long time ago.

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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old Feb 1st, 2012, 01:29 PM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

every black person living in the usa should read that letter. it touch me so much. to think what black's have gone through in this country by so-called god-fearing white people. im sorry, im not racist...but i will never trust any white man. like my mama alway's told me they are the blue-eyed devil, willing to sell their mama's down the river for a quick dollar bill. every time i see much younger blacks running and hanging around their so-called white friends i want to tell them to please be careful and make sure you dont have anything they want cause they will steal, beat, or kill you to get it. when i say whites, i mean american whites.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old Feb 1st, 2012, 03:41 PM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

I think the sarcasm is pretty obvious, but it is a very gentle sarcasm given the circumstances. And very witty. Especially this line cracks me up:

"Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me."

Classic!
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old Feb 1st, 2012, 03:51 PM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tennisbum79 View Post

- snip -

Yet, there are people, many of them God fearing people who have convinced themselves this was not as bad as it is made out to be.
And merely raisng the issue reparation, which is, let's be honest about it, what Jourdan is raising; is seen as not loving the United States.

Jourdan knew he certainly can't get his dignity back, but he could tell the former master how he stripped it from him and his famility.
Michele Bachmann: Kids Better Off Under Slavery?



Republican, presidential candidate, Representative Michele Bachmann, is one of the most dangerously, ignorant, candidates for the American presidency in recent memory. She has already stated that the founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery when in reality they all had dozens to hundreds of slaves. But, now, she's come out and saying that African-American children essentially had it better under slavery than today!!!
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President, the document said.

Given that families were broken up regularly for sales during slavery and that rape by masters was pretty common, this could not be more offensive, Jack & Jill Politics' Cheryl Contee noted.
(Source)


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It was a great letter and so glad Justinetime posted this so we won't have to read the "what about FAMU" post. I can only imagine how happy massa was to hear from Jourdan until he read how much he owed Jourdan in back wages. Po' Colonel, I can only imagine the cussing and goings on in that house when he read that letter.
I'm sure the dagnabit!s and n-word!s were flying like daggers.

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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old Feb 1st, 2012, 04:14 PM
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Re: Fascinating letter from an emancipated slave to his former master:

Wow! This letter gave me such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Makes me proud.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustineTime View Post
What strikes me is that it's rather hard to discern whether Jourdon is being sarcastic or truly bears his former master no ill will. My guess is that it's the latter, which is almost certainly a testament to the man's character. But it also occurs to me that there must be something tremendously mentally debilitating about having spent most, if not all, of your life as someone else's property, a kind of Stockholm Syndrome from which I would think it would be extremely difficult to recover.

What a blight and a blot that accursed institution brought upon this country! It seems we may never fully recover from its scars.
[/INDENT]
I thought he was obviously being sarcastic. Asking to be paid for his previous service to his owner + interest, I assume was unheard of esp. considering that he was emancipated, which I guess was assumed to be a generous act on the owners part. Were freed slaves generally compensated for their time as slaves back then? I don't know. Anyway, there's other portions of the letter that intimate that he was somewhat resentful and suspicious of the guy (e.g. "If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future." and "Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire."). Or maybe that's just how I wanted to read it.

I would have liked to have seen the original letter to the emancipated slave too.

I only have one question, why was the letter published in a newspaper?

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